How To Beat Getting Off Your Routine

When I moved to China, I thought I was going to change everything about myself. Come back to America as a woman. Everybody at home is anticipating what this new found woman will be like. Poised? Articulate? Responsible? Level-headed?

So one of the first things I did when I arrived was make a list. I wrote down everything that I wanted to work on in China. Faults, weakness, and even strengths that I wanted to gain and grow a better knowledge of.

For the first half of this trip, I was flying by, and getting ahead of things. I was keeping up with every homework assignment and student evaluation at the end of the day. I never had to worry if my lesson was planned or not, because it was ready to go be dropped off in the classroom every morning on my way to lunch. I worked out every night, kept up in my diary, faithfully took care of washing my face, and reading my books as fast as I could. I was learning Chinese and utilizing it anywhere I could, even if I ended up saying “Wo ting bu dong”.

I felt on top. I felt confident. I felt secure and strong and happy as well.

A sense of overwhelming anxiety starting coming to me the second I heard I was going to teach Shop Class. Me? Building things and taking them apart?  I COULD BARELY MAKE A KEYCHAIN! From that instant, I became worried. After that, I stopped working out everyday. After I stopped working out, I stopped turning in my lesson plans on time and then *gasp!* I came to two meetings late. I started neglecting my student evaluation sheets and all the important things I had to do. I still did them, but not to the full extent at which they righteously deserved. I was seeing my friends more instead of preparing for my lessons.

I JUST COULDN’T GET IT TOGETHER! I almost didn’t complain. Admittedly, for the short time, I didn’t mind neglecting certain things. I cauht up on my sleep schedule and finally finished the The Hunger Games series. I knew what I was doing and didn’t feel much remorse on the outside. However, on the inside, I was beating myself up.
Why are you letting yourself get away with this attitude? How long are you going to do this until you bury yourself under last minute stress and procrastination?”
I knew I had to change something. I couldn’t keep pretending I was giving my best effort.

I spent an entire afternoon in silence. Listening to the thoughts in my head come and go. I didn’t move until I felt I could focus and write out an action plan of what to do and how to do it. I needed to get my priorities straight and realize some things are much more important than others. Although I have made many friends and have the time of my life in this school, I came here to teach. To find myself. To learn. To grow.
What I was doing the past 3 weeks was anything but that.

So after my meditation ended, I got up and wrote my action plan. I turned my music up loud and deep cleaned my room. They say having less clutter around gives you a much clearer mind – and they are right. I packed away everything I didn’t need anymore. I took out all the trash, swept the room, made my bed, and organized everything I could.
I wrote five lesson plans for the week coming up. I washed my face and did ten push ups. I caught up in my diary. I replied to all 13 emails that had the word “draftnext to it from the previous weeks. I skyped my mother to prove to her I wasn’t dead. I washed my hair. I wrote a new chapter in my book. I uploaded pictures to this very site and updated captions.

That day, I got things done. And I didn’t stop until I was satisfied enough to take myself out on the field that night to dance for an hour, as my form of cardio.


You can’t expect to do everything in one day. We are not Superman or the Flash. We cannot possibly finish our life’s accomplishments in one week. Just like the yin and yang, once something is done with, something new will need to be tackled. The ever-going To-Do lists of our lives will be with us wherever we go and slacking will only make things harder.

Remembering to take baby steps is a great way to accomplish a goal or to continue on a steady and stable path towards your life’s work. Sometimes we will get distracted. Sometimes emergencies happen. And other times, we realize half way through, “this isn’t what I want at all.” And that’s OKAY.
But that is no excuse to let ourselves fly off the handle into a disarray of stress and worries. Taking tasks one by one, and giving each our full focus will help out in the long run.

What motivated you to start a new goal or task in the first place? For me, I wanted to stay on top of eating healthy and working out regularly. In my family, it’s easy for weight to bounce around. We make big meals. Fattening desserts. Treats, drinks, and pastries that make your mouth water. The best I can do is demonstrate self-control. It’s a new skill I have been working on for the past six months, and let me tell you firsthand…. this is easier said than done. If I was one of the lucky people who could devour the world and not gain a pound; never having to worry about cardio or strength training, I would definitely take the opportunity.
But it’s not just my family genes that motivate me to workout. I love being healthy. I love finding new recipes that boost my energy and clear my head. I love drinking my water and running until I want to fall on my face. I love the feeling of being sore the next three days because I challenged my body to new heights of strength I didn’t know I had before.
It’s then, when I remind myself “this is why I love this,” that I can allow myself to re-evaluate my wants and needs and get back to my routine of staying active and healthy.

If you are not one who has the ability to handle dramatic changes (and I applaud those of you who are), weaning yourself back into your routine is the best way to not lose your hair, so to speak. Living in another country for me is challenging at times. There are changes everyday to my routine, but this time, instead of being neglectful of my hobbies, passions, and important alone time, I find a way to keep my routine as recognizable as possible. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff, but yet accept it as it comes and find a way to deal with the changes without dealing with regretful thoughts and actions.

So just remember a few things:

-take some baby steps.
-clear your head.
-remember your passions and activities, and why you started doing them.

Sometimes life gets hard. It is always changing. But it is up to us and only us to deal with it in a way that keeps us sane. Don’t lose your head over one small fear and stress. Work with it. Challenge yourself. And make it into something new and creative. You never know what you can come up.

PS- Now that I no longer am teaching shop (I will begin Arts & Crafts tomorrow) I have realized, it was my favorite subject to teach so far.
Funny how things work out, right?



What beautiful, heartfelt words. You seriously never cease to amaze me with your writing. You're amazing...the way you tell a story. I'm glad you're alive and I'm so thankful this opportunity is yours to experience. I love you Ashee!!